Former Ontario nurses known for anti-vaxx views appeal dismissal of $1M libel suit

Former Ontario nurses known for anti-vaxx views appeal dismissal of M libel suit

Three former Ontario nurses whose social media posts unfold vaccine misinformation and COVID-19 conspiracy theories have appealed the dismissal of a $1-million libel go well with towards two of their critics — a go well with the decrease court docket choose dismissed as “puzzling” and, on attraction, one other court docket stated had “a low probability of success.” 

Kristen Nagle, Kristal Pitter and Sarah Choujounian, who sit on the board of administrators for Canadian Frontline Nurses, launched their libel lawsuit towards the Canadian Nurses Affiliation (CNA) and Comox, B.C.-based media outlet Collectively Information Inc.(TNI) final January.

Of their court docket filings, the plaintiffs alleged separate editorials revealed by the defendants critiquing their roles in organizing nationwide protests outdoors Canadian hospitals throughout the pandemic brought on them “ridicule, hatred and contempt,” and “injured of their emotions, their private {and professional} character and popularity.”

Final December, the lawsuit was dismissed as a SLAPP, or strategic lawsuit towards public participation, a authorized time period used to explain gag proceedings meant to silence critics on issues of public curiosity. 

Earlier this month, Justice Marie–Andrée Vermette, who referred to as the plaintiffs’ resolution to sue “puzzling,” dominated that, beneath Ontario’s anti-SLAPP laws, the three now owe the defendants mixed authorized prices of $315,000.

Lawyer says plaintiffs ‘weaponized’ proceedings

As Nagle, Pitter and Choujounian attraction, the defendants have referred to as into query their capability to pay and have sought safety for the price of the continuing from an Ontario Courtroom of Enchantment, authorized paperwork present. 

Protesters, seen right here in September 2021, hyperlink arms outdoors the Ontario Legislature in Toronto for a number of minutes as a part of co-ordinated demonstrations at hospitals and different websites throughout the nation throughout the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Patrick Morrell/CBC)

In a call written earlier this month, Enchantment Courtroom Justice J.A. Favreau agreed the defendants had legitimate considerations, saying “the attraction has a low probability of success.” The choice additionally notes that for TNI, “it will likely be almost not possible for them to get better prices if they’re profitable.” 

Favreau ordered the plaintiffs to pay $15,000, saying “there isn’t any proof that this quantity would preclude the plaintiffs from pursuing the attraction” whereas offering “a measure of safety to the TNI defendants.” 

“This case has been an actual important burden on my shopper,” Paul Champ, the lawyer for TNI, informed CBC Information on Thursday. He believes the attraction by the CFN is an additional try not solely to silence his shopper, but in addition to break its funds. 

“Virtually each newspaper from throughout the nation revealed actually crucial tales that had been similar to my shopper’s and but they selected to choose on my shopper,” he stated.  “It’s actually unlucky that courts might be weaponized on this method.”

Alexander Boisseneau-Lehner, lawyer for the three former nurses, declined to talk with CBC Information in regards to the attraction. 

“Because the matter stays energetic earlier than the courts, it could be inappropriate for us to remark right now,” he wrote in an electronic mail. 

Affidavit exhibits CFN, ex-nurses’ funds

In keeping with the provincial regulator, the School of Nurses of Ontario, not one of the three is entitled to practise nursing after going through separate disciplinary hearings by a tribunal. 

In a 72-page affidavit filed by the plaintiffs in March that particulars their private funds, they argue their mixed property could be enough to pay for an attraction ought to it’s unsuccessful “assuming these prices won’t exceed $220,000,” the doc stated. 

Courtroom filings supply a monetary image of the CFN and every of the three ladies, who make up three-quarters of the non-profit company’s board of administrators.

The court docket paperwork state that, as of March 28, the CFN had $23,854.06 in money and is engaged in crowdfunding its authorized charges. 

Right here’s what the affidavit says in regards to the three plaintiffs’ funds:

  • Choujounian bought her dwelling in Mississauga for $820,000 final January, incomes a $200,000 revenue with which she “bought a modest quantity of silver and gold.” She was paid $10,000 for work with Lighting It Up, a holistic therapeutic service the place she charged $120 an hour to assist folks “heal from childhood trauma” or “get better from fibromyalgia,” permitting clients to “lastly ditch all of the poisonous dangerous prescription medicine.” 
  • Nagle “is presently unemployed,” since November 2020, the paperwork stated, including she “is supported by her husband Christopher Nagle, who’s employed full time as a trainer.” Nagle and her husband have owned their dwelling in London since 2020, however “there may be little fairness within the property obtainable” and “she doesn’t present have the flexibility to pay of the attraction herself.” She nonetheless faces a possible $10,000 nice, for violating Ontario’s Reopening Act, that is beneath attraction. 
  • Pitter works “as a common labourer at a manufacturing facility,” incomes an hourly wage of $20. Whereas she has collectively owned her dwelling in Tillsonburg along with her husband, Craig Pitter, since 2008, the house is mortgaged with “little fairness within the property.”

Provincial data obtained by CBC Information additionally point out Kristal Pitter has liens on two autos in Ontario: a Honda Civic and a Ford Equinox. 

The paperwork notice she “doesn’t presently have the flexibility to pay for the prices of the attraction herself” and nonetheless owes $17,500 stemming from her disciplinary listening to in entrance of the School of Nurses of Ontario. 

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